Is Don Hewitt a disgruntled developer or someone trying to blow the whistle on sweetheart deals? Anna Wolfe scored another story in the Clarion-Ledger yesterday and raised questions about the convention center hotel deal. Ms. Wolfe reported:
Through his objection to a Jackson Redevelopment Authority project selection, local developer Don Hewitt has connected dots that he says illustrate conflicts of interest.
Hewitt, managing member of Advanced Technology Building Solutions, competed alongside Red Leaf unsuccessfully against Engineering Design Technology and Mississippi Developers for the Jackson Convention Complex hotel deal.
“They’re going to sue us whether we approve it or not,” said JRA Chairman McKinley Alexander. “I contend that there’s nothing we’re going to do that’s not going to result in the need for litigation.”...
He has yet to receive any kind of response from the authority. Alexander calls it sour grapes.
"Most of the stuff they write, I tend not to read it," Alexander said, adding that he does not have any development interest or any family members who would be included on contracts, so he doesn't have to worry about conflicts. "None of the board members I know about have a conflict with EDT."
The subcontractors, on the other hand, aren't of interest to Alexander, who stresses they are not the ones the JRA approves.....
Why would anyone look at subcontractors? It is true that Mr. Hewitt has challenged several JRA decisions over the past few years in court. However, Ms. Wolfe quizes the financing of this particular deal:
There's one other issue: the validity of the project's investor, Hamershlag, Sulzberger, and Borg Capital Markets Inc., which claims it has the financial capacity to provide bond backing for the entire project.
According to a letter from the New York investment banking firm, "For the Jackson project we have a partnership with PFA, a political subdivision of the State of Wisconsin created for the purpose of issuing tax-exempt and taxable conduit bonds for public and private entities nationwide."
Hamershlag does not have an operating webpage. The group's Facebook page says it has operated as an investment bank for over 175 years and has 56 offices in 33 countries.
Mychal Jefferson, chairman of Hamershlag's Private Family Office who owns 10 to 25 percent of the company, is Mississippi Developers' CFO. Hamershlag says in the EDT proposal that it is a minority-owned company, but records from FINRA, the primary regulatory entity in the investments industry, show 75 percent of the company is owned by Stephen Perciballi, who is white.... Rest of article.
Interesting. Very interesting. Read the rest of the story. Not bad for someone who isn't a 'voice of the community".